Posted: February 6, 2012 in Healthy Living

So what’s the deal with numbers anyway?  Well for starters they are ever-present in our lives and can have a great impact on us as witnessed with the final score of the Super Bowl and people’s reactions! When we were first born our weight and length were recorded. With that comes the proclamation from the proud parents to all family and friends, so much so, that the parents even go so far as to print those stats on the birth announcements.  Hmmm – how many of us would be thrilled to have those same stats printed for everyone to see at our age now?  It is amazing how something so new, innocent, beautiful has a very different meaning when we are older.

Next move into school age and the use of numbers are all over our papers, tests and homework as a way for us to gauge if our efforts have been deemed worthy of a particular score.  There was the elation of getting that 100 and the horror of actually scoring a(n) ___ insert number here based on your own history – don’t want to offend!!!  So we learn from a young age that a number begins to define us.

Fast forward into the years of adulthood and being out in the workforce. Now it is the numbers written on a paycheck that seem to dictate some of our moves in life and maybe how we even perceive ourselves.  It is the numbers written on a credit card statement that can send us into a state of panic.  It can be the lack of numbers in a bank account that can elicit that same sense of panic.

Look at your health – numbers are all around. Blood pressure, triglycerides, BMI (Body Mass Index), cholesterol…all present themselves as a number so that we can gain a clearer picture of our overall health status…and of course there is the dreaded weight number.

Let’s hone in on one particular set of numbers – the numbers that we have such a love/hate relationship with depending on what they are on a given day.  Those would be the numbers staring back at us from our scale!  I am choosing to focus on the scale since it is probably the one device so readily used to provide feedback, and quite frankly, it shouldn’t.  It is my hope that after reading this blog you seriously consider incorporating other methods beyond the scale for both your health and sanity!

So what exactly is wrong with the scale?  For one, many people have an addiction to it – weighing themselves daily, sometimes more than once a day.  This can set a person up for unrealistic views about their body and the way they gage progress or lack there of.  A person’s weight can fluctuate a few pounds or more from morning to night and from day-to-day.  Some of this can be attributed to the food eaten, water intake, exercise and hormones to name a few.  “According to expert dietitians, in order to experience just a 1-lb. gain of fat, a person would have to consume 3,500 more calories than they are able to burn. That means to gain 5 lbs. of fat in one night, a person would have to devour 17,500 calories. Gorging like that is not unheard of, but is highly unlikely.” (  On those same lines, in order to lose 5 lbs. of fat in one night you would have had to burn 17,500 calories!  Remember this fact the next time you step on the scale from morning to night or from one day to the next.

Another thing that makes the scale problematic, if that is your only means of feedback, is the fact that it can’t distinguish between lean body mass and fat. Here is a perfect example of this.  In the picture below you have two men who are the same height, weight and BMI.  According to their BMI they would both be considered obese.  However, it is clear that the man on the left is anything but obese.  He has more lean muscle tissue which is denser so it takes up less space.  Think of a pound of cotton balls (representing fat) and a pound of meat (representing muscle).  They both weigh the same, but one takes up way more space than the other.  Are you beginning to understand why it is important to incorporate various methods of feedback rather than just the scale?

Please do not allow this one inanimate object to have such power over you that it begins to define you.  I have witnessed too many people allow the scale to dictate whether they were going to have a good day or a bad day – myself included – but not anymore!  Nothing, or no one, for that matter should have that much control!

I know that some of you reading this are in a situation/program where the scale is used to give feedback (wink, wink…remember I have been there) – I encourage you to also look for other methods to define your success and do not weigh yourself every day.  Start taking measurements – you may lose inches and not even see a drop at the scale…get that one pair of jeans that are too snug and start using them as way to visually see your success…have your gym (if you belong) take your body fat measurements.  And if the scale is not part of your formalized program, but you find that you just can’t break free – I challenge you to slowly begin the amount of times that you step on it.

Remember there are so many other numbers that make up your health.  Don’t let the scale have the power to determine your happiness.

 You are more than just that number on that scale!

  1. Shannon says:

    It is so refreshing to read something realistic about weight and weight loss. I wish society as a whole could come to this place.

  2. Sexy Jane says:


    Kudos regarding this particular writeup titled Numbers « barefoot barefood. It so happens that recently I just had been discussing with my friends in regards to this topic and for the most part We all agree with the fact as to what you happen to be stating. I happen to be talking about this issue a great deal of late with our friends so that with some luck this will help me make my point.

    I would need to ask you a favor and that is that it would be great if you could get into a bit more detail. Or perhaps you are able to point us to a couple of additional web sites where we can easily read more about this.

    One last thing, Have you read anything with regards to MUFAs (Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acids). If so then could you please put up an article regarding it?

    • Joanne says:

      Hi there! Thanks for reading my blog and responding to it. I am including a link for you to check out. This post has great information about weight-loss versus fat-loss as well as other ineteresting facts. I hope this is a help to you.

      As far as the MUFAs – I have read a great deal about them as well as the PUFAs and Saturated Fats. I hope to do a blog post in the future about the differences. Did you have anything specific that you were looking for in regards to the MUFAs?

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